I begin by pulling wild weeds and raking fallen leaves. I whisk a winter’s-full of caked loam from stone steps. The dirt provides my manicure and the sun warms and massages my stiff back. A deep breath, the first in many months, hands me softly-scented sweet air. My mind shifts. I step back from task complete, into stillness and contentment.
In the deep recesses of my front garden, I found a few spouts of volunteer roses. They are covered with mildew, yellow and sickly. It’s no wonder they haven’t previously poked their heads above ground in the poor, damp, sunless soil hidden behind my landscaping. No rose could thrive. My plan, once they are a little bigger, is to dig them up and transplant them into the rose garden in my backyard, where the sun shines bright on rich, fecund soil. The volunteers will probably lose their leaves and die. That always happens when I try to move plants to someplace better, the change is too much for them.
The rangy, stunted, forgotten and unloved volunteers in the front yard and their healthy, happy, desired and prolific cousins in the backyard make a noteworthy contrast. Oh, how creating the right environment can make the difference in successful thriving.
I’ve been talking with my shrink about my childhood upbringing – two parents who didn’t want another baby, a father who didn’t nurture or encourage me (and, frankly, intimidated and belittled me) and a mother who was too tired, busy, or downtrodden to offer me the safe harbor and respite I needed from dad’s brutal and unloving parenting.
You know where this is going. Today, I am the volunteer rose, weakly trying to raise my head towards the sun, but suffering from the consequences of being raised in my detrimental environment. Will I always be stunted and emotionally rangy? Is the damage too profound and will any attempt to move me towards a healthier situation cause me to die completely, unable to adjust to the warm sun and fertile soil? Will I always fail to bloom?
A patch of dirt
A kitchen, no matter how rustic
A place to call home
It’s not that I don’t want to write, but so much of my time, my thinking, is entangled with him these days. I no longer feel comfortable telling you about our interactions. It’s become a bit more serious and it’s not fair to him to share without his knowledge. But, without this sharing, I have nothing left to say.
Strip away our conversations, our dates, our exchange of ideas, and my musings on him and I am a ghostly, diaphanous creature these days. That’s frightening. Can I really lose myself so easily – and only after a few months? He called me a “pleaser” last week. I bristle at that moniker. To me, a “pleaser” subjugates their wants and needs for another. On the contrary – I want to share my delight in the world’s pleasures equally, not one-sidedly. I want to please him – and be pleased in return.
Saturday night found me alone – and feeling LONELY. What new horror is this? I’ve spent hundreds of Saturdays alone without a second thought – and now the silence is deafening. I finally retreated to P’s house for some company.
Fear is creeping in again. How can he continue to like me if “I” no longer exist? I’m trying to find myself – especially the part of me who writes here. I spent yesterday in the back garden, cleaning up the mess the winter has left behind – raking leaves, pulling weeds, cutting back dead plants. Four and a half hours of this moving meditation. Tonight, yoga – the greatest tool I know for reconnecting with myself, grounding myself – and hopefully once again finding my substance.